Gospel singing brings in the crowds

Author: Mr Robert Culyer

Published on: 23 December 2016

As editor of your newspaper, I am always searching out examples of good practice to share with you.

It was suggested that I should speak to the Revd Claude Scott about ‘Glaven Sings Gospel’. It is an event that happens in Blakeney Church and attracts about 120 – 140 people. I met with Claude and the following tale evolved.

I began by asking him how the Glaven Sings Gospel started. He told me that he had talked with the Rector, Libby, and they had looked at the style of worship that they offered in the benefice. Most of their services were formal, and mostly Eucharistic, so they were looking for something more relaxed and something that would attract both church-goers, and non-church goers.

Claude had attended Gospel singing in Lewes, and thought it might be a way forward. Chatting over coffee with Claude, I asked him how difficult it was to start. He told me that it was important to keep it simple, keep it short and keep it local. At the first session, they produced a song sheet but they under produced! So now they use a power point presentation onto a big screen to display the words. At the back of Blakeney Church they have an area around the font which allows them to use chairs rather than the church pews, which keeps the event informal. Tea and coffee is offered afterwards. New friendships have been formed. The event has proved accessible to people of all ages and stages, including those with dementia. At Blakeney they use a grand piano, but this summer, when they had the chance of using a marquee on the green, they used a keyboard. They now have a ‘scratch’ choir that meets for an hour immediately before the session, and local soloists add variety. The compere or a speaker will explain the origins and spirituality of some of the songs before they sing them.

I asked Claude how it was marketed. He told me that they put posters up in the villages of the benefice, and used social media as a marketing tool. The Church has a very good relationship with the local school, including ‘Open the Book’ and Messy Church which attracts over one hundred people. Glaven Sings Gospel has become an ecumenical event and the local Methodist Church use it as their evening service.

One of the Churchwardens said of the evening ‘everyone is smiling and really getting involved in a very special way. It is truly praise, worship and more importantly mission’.

To summarise:-

  • Keep it local
  • Keep it simple
  • Market the event with posters and via social media
  • Make the most of local contacts such as schools and other churches

Gospel singing might just work for you and your church, but as I always say ‘no two parishes are the same’, but it might now make you think of something that might work for you… Christmas Carol Karaoke or Scratch Messiah!

The author...

Mr Robert Culyer

Generous Giving Adviser Officer

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